Dave White
The Visitor Review

Dave's Rating:

1.5

… obvious, shallow and as subtle as Crash

Who's in It: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira, Hiam Abbass

The Basics: A grieving professor (he lost his pianist wife) discovers that illegal Middle Eastern immigrants, duped into believing they were renting an apartment legally, are squatting in his second Manhattan home. They're musicians, too, trying to escape oppression in their home country, and they teach him to hear the music again, just in time for post-9/11 immigration injustice's steely hand to descend on them all and being deportation proceedings.

What's the Deal? On the now-popular blog Stuff White People Like, this movie ought to be Exhibit No. 1. It's a hot-topic-issue movie tailor-made for middle-aged indie audiences who buy fair-trade coffee and listen to world-music shows on their local public radio station but who don't really want to watch downer documentaries on the same subject. That it's also obvious, shallow and as subtle as Crash, positioning immigrants as having no real purpose outside of playing funky drums and bringing enlightenment to clueless Caucasian Westerners, is just part of its magical appeal.

Do You Get It? Do You Get It Now? How About Now? Maybe Now? Are You Sure You're Getting It? There's actually a scene where one of the musicians takes the professor on a ferry ride and shows him Ellis Island, Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty. And guess what? He's never been up inside Lady Liberty's head! Can you even believe the irony?

Who's Good: Israeli actress Abbass, as the mother of one of the imperiled musicians facing deportation. She comes off as sorrowful and resigned to doom while the rest of the movie pleads and whimpers.

What I'd Rather Watch: The Idol Gives Back show. At least with that, you get Heart singing "Barracuda" and the So You Think You Can Dance kids jumping around to Rihanna songs and no one pretending to learn anything.

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